October 1, 2007
This may just be one of the least appealing blogs on the whole of the Internet, but never mind: here we are. Inspired by Astronomy Picture of the Day, we thought we should bring the same concept to the much more exciting science of sauropod vertebrae — but with a more realistic schedule.
In case you don’t know, sauropods are dinosaurs — but not just any dinosaurs: the biggest, best and most fascinating of them all. For most fossil vertebrates (animals with backbones) the skull bones are the most distinctive and informative, but sauropod skulls are fragile and easily disarticulated from their necks, and so rarely found. Instead, much of what is known about sauropods is known from their vertebrae, which are much more complex than those of other animals.
Our mission is to present you with beautiful pictures of interesting sauropod vertebrae. That’s all.
“We” is Mike Taylor, Matt Wedel and Darren Naish, a trio of palaeontologists. Matt and Darren have their Ph.Ds, Mike is working on his; Mike and Matt specialise in sauropods, while Darren favours theropods but moonlights in the sauropod world from time to time. Mike and Darren and English, Matt is American.
To start us off, here is nice photograph of one of the most iconic of sauropod vertebrae, the 8th cervical of the Brachiosaurus brancai type specimen HMN SII, in left lateral view.
This vertebra, along with the rest of the vertebral column of Brachiosaurus brancai, was described by Werner Janensch in 1950, in one of a series of monographs exhaustively describing the osteology of this species. I (Mike) took this photo at the Humboldt Museum in Berlin, in March 2005. The vertebra is 113 cm in length, including the prezygapophyses.